Janna and the Kings
By Foreword Magazine
While this is the author’s first offering for children, she is an accomplished journalist, playwright, and performer, as well as a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam… Smith’s skill with language is apparent in her narrator’s voice, which perfectly captures the characters, inspired by her own childhood memories. Her writing is filled with child-friendly imagery: early on Saturday, Janna wakes up to ‘the music of a no-school morning.’ Grandaddy’s ‘hair looked like cotton candy snow’ she says, and his voice was ‘‘smooth and growly at the same time.’ Mirroring the rich descriptive text are detailed watercolor illustrations that will have a similarly strong appeal to young readers. This is the illustrator’s second picture book; his artwork previously appeared in educational and children’s magazines. He depicts Janna and her world in vibrant two page spreads bursting with action… Janna’s display of courage in returning to the barbershop after her grandfather’s death will endear her to young readers, and the neighborhood she lives in is brough alive through the narrative and illustrations.